Copperhead snake strikes Ballantyne man, social media helps identify the venomous snake

- Hot and dry weather means watch out for snakes, and a Ballantyne man found out the hard way.

"My whole hand puffed up, you couldn't see any of the veins and everything was puffed up that big," Mike McGowan said.

McGowan’s hand is back to normal after a copperhead snake bit his finger while he and his wife were doing some yard work on Sunday.

"Moving some logs from underneath our house and I was inside and I hear a blood curdling scream coming from my wife and I came out here and she showed me where the snake was because it was still in the logs," McGowan said.

It's a place Carolinas Reptile Rescue Specialist Grover Barfield said is very common to find snakes during warm weather.

"If you have a wood pile in your back yard a lot of times through the late summer when the females start to develop the embryos inside and just sit there for weeks," Barfield said.

McGowan said he got the copperhead in a bucket and wanted to relocate him but when he tried to get him out, he knew he had made a mistake.

"It went through a pair of leather gloves! I've had snakes before and just the little teeth won't go through it but the fang went through it and I felt a sharp sting right away," McGowan said.

His wife Heather reached out on the Ballantyne Connection Facebook page for help on identifying the snake and many answered, telling them to get to the emergency room quickly due to the venom.

Others suggested to put a tourniquet around the area and to bring the snake to the hospital. Barfield said both are bad idea.

"You do not do a tourniquet! The tourniquet will keep the venom concentrated and allow it to do more damage to the tissue,” Barfield said.

Just because you are bitten by a venomous snake, doesn’t mean you need to rush to the emergency room right away. Barfield has been bitten multiple times and one of those times he waited almost three hours before heading to the hospital.

If you have some sort of allergic reaction to the bite, then you should rush to the hospital. Have someone drive you because the bite can almost be like driving under the influence.

Other tips Barfield said you should follow if you're doing yard work:

  1. Wear thick rubber or leather gloves
  2. Closed toe shoes

Working with a wood pile:

  1. Check the area before putting your hands in it
  2. Raise that wood pile about 6 inches so snakes can't get in it.

If you run into a snake, if you can back away slowly about 2-3 feet or grab a water hose and gently spay the snake and it will go away.

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